After the wild Rideback ride and jump, Rin is given the form to join the club by members Hishida and Kawai, but her friend Shouko first makes the guys apologize for putting her in danger. Rin is intrigued enough to return to the club once more, and this time, she finds a green Rideback there. It belongs to a woman named Kataoka Tamayo who has done her research on Rin’s background, and she challenges Rin to a race. If Rin wins, she can use the Rideback whenever she wants, but if she loses, she’ll have to be Tamayo’s servant. Rin isn’t sure whether or not to do it, and before deciding, she calls up her little brother Kenji. As it turns out, Kenji already knows who Tamayo is because of her fame as a Rideback racer. This leads to Rin doing more reading on Ridebacks, including their Spread Legs Form. On the outside, she claims not to want to race, but her memories of her Rideback experience causes her heart to beat faster.
On the day of the race, Rin decides to show up after all. Tamayo gives her a one lap handicap, meaning that Rin has to complete three laps before Tamayo completes four, and they first take some time to familiarize themselves with the course around school. Tamayo is confident that she’ll win, but she sees a connection between herself and Rin because of how Rin took the challenge. Rin, however, explains that she wanted to see what kind of level a racing champion is at. Because of this, Tamayo decides to give Rin an additional lap as a handicap in exchange for starting the race right there, but this is derailed when they find part of the course blocked temporarily, so they start officially from the front of the club. Soon after, Tamayo has her Rideback go to Spread Legs Form, and she’s able to gain a sizable lead. Rin attempts the same thing, but the handling around corners is too much for her, and she crashes into the water.
Although she and the Fuego are wet, Rin is okay and decides to continue the race. She waits for the next time Tamayo passes this point and then starts pursuing her again. Rin manages to pass Tamayo this time, and with a pair of successive 90-degree turns coming up, she returns the Fuego to Standing Form and performs a twirling ballet-style jump that gets her past the turns and allows her to accelerate again immediately afterward. Tamayo is so amazed by what she sees that she doesn’t realize that there’s a cat on the road until it’s almost too late, and she crashes while trying to avoid hitting it. Tamayo is able to get out of this with only a light concussion, and afterward, she decides that Rin should enter an official race. Rin still isn’t sure if all this is okay, but Shouko tells her that it suits her.
Well, animation-wise, I was glad to see that there wasn’t an immediate drop in quality this week – the race was pretty exciting and the episode had a number of great–looking shots. Story-wise, despite all the political turmoil and unrest going on in the background, this episode really makes RIDEBACK feel like a sports series. It’s got the main character starting to be enthralled by the world of Ridebacks, and her first competitive challenge completely pulls her in. She’s even going to enter a big race in the next episode. I say all this not as a criticism of sports series in general – which, like this, can be quite good at pulling audiences in – but as an observation about how the story of this anime adaptation is being developed compared to the manga which had a bit more of the political stuff spilling into the university life by this point. Granted, a lot of the political stuff in the manga was quite confusing at first, so I’m not saying that the manga was perfect and that the anime should be following it exactly. I’m just very curious to see where the focus of the anime goes as it continues on because this will only be 12 episodes total. I’m sure it won’t just be about Rin becoming a great Rideback racer with her ballet talents.